United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
HENRY R. WILHOIT. Jr., District Judge.
Plaintiff Darrell Winn, a/k/a Darrell Greg Winn, is an inmate confined by the BOP in the Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI")-Ashland, located in the Ashland, Kentucky. Winn has filed a prose civil rights complaint asse1ting claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, pursuant to the doctrine announced in Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). [D. E. No. 1] Winn alleges that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of his rights guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Winn has previously been granted in forma pauperis status. [D. E. No. 5]
The Court has conducted a preliminary review of Winn's complaint because he asserts claims against government officials and because he has been granted pauper status. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2)(B), 1915A. Because Winn is proceeding without an attorney, the Court liberally construes his claims and accepts his factual allegations as true. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Bell Atlantic Cmp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). But as explained below, the Court determines that as to Winn's allegations that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, and that he is entitled to specific injunctive relief, Winn has not alleged a claim upon which relief can be granted.
ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT
Winn states that on October 28, 2009, while he was confined in the Federal Medical Center-Butner ("FMC-Butner"), located in Butner, North Carolina, he was diagnosed as having Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease ("GERD") and a mild to moderate sliding hiatal hernia associated with his GERD condition. [D. E. No. 1, P. 3, ¶ 11] On May 29, 2009, a physician at FMC-Butner prescribed the drug Ranitidine to treat Winn's GERD and hiatal hernia conditions, id., at ¶ 12, and on November 10, 2009, the same physician ordered a refill of the Ranitidine medication. Id., at¶ 13. See also D. E. No. 1-2, pp. 2-5.
Winn states that on April 23, 2010, after his transfer to the FCI-Bennettsville, located in Bennettsville, South Carolina, the physician at that facility examined him, acknowledged his GERD and hiatal hernia conditions and renewed his Ranitidine prescription. [D. E. No. 1, p. 4 ¶ 14] Winn alleges that the FCI-Bennettsville physician and/or the medical staff renewed his Ranitidine prescription three more times between late July 2010 and late March 2011. [ Id., pp. 4-5, ¶¶ 15-17; see also BOP medical reports, D. E. No. 1-2, pp. 6-15]
Winn states that on July 8, 2011, after his transfer to FCI-Pekin, located in Pekin, Illinois, Dr. Scott Moats, the physician at that facility, examined· him, acknowledged his GERD and hiatal hernia conditions, and renewed his Ranitidine prescription. [ Id., p. 5 ¶ 18] Winn alleges that Dr. Moats renewed his Ranitidine prescription three times between late November 2011 and late September 2012. [ Id., pp. 5-6, ¶¶ 18-21; see also BOP medical rep01ts, D. E. No. 1-2, pp. 16-26]
By late March 2012, Winn had been transferred to the United States Penitentiary ("USP") Atlanta, in Atlanta, Georgia. Winn alleges that on March 26, 2013, Dr. "D." Martin, a prison physician, examined acknowledged his GERD and hiatal hemia conditions, and renewed his Ranitidine prescription. [ Id., p. 5 ¶ 22; see also BOP medical reports, D. E. No. 1-2, pp. 27-29]
By early April 2014, Winn had been transferred to the FCI-Ashland. Winn states that on April 2, 2014, the FCI-Ashland medical staff examined him during the course of a Chronic Care Encounter. [ Id., pp. 6-7, ¶  Winn claims that on April 14, 2014, Defendant Kenneth Gomez, M.D., discontinued his Ranitidine 150mg prescription after reviewing his purchases from the prison commissary and concluding that he had been buying "junk food." [ Id., p. 7, ¶ 24] Winn attached to his complaint the three-page BOP Health Services Clinical Encounter dated April 2, 2014 [D. E. No. 1-2, pp. 30-32], which shows a "Stop Date" of April 19, 2014, for not only Winn's Ranitidine HCI 150mg prescription, but also for his Gabapentin 300mg prescription. [ Id., p. 31]
Winn alleges the he took all necessary steps under the BOP's administrative remedy process to exhaust his claim that Dr. Gomez had improperly discontinued his Ranitidine prescription. [ Id. ]Winn states that in response to his request for an informal remedy, both Dr. Gomez and Defendant Amanda Waugaman, the Medical Administrator of FCI-Ashland, informed him that he could purchase from the commissary the medication that he needed to treat his GERD condition. [Id.]
Winn alleges that in refusing to continue his Ranitidine prescription, Dr. Gomez was deliberately indifferent to his GERD and hiatal hernia conditions, and thus violated his rights guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Winn further alleges that in denying his request for an informal remedy, Amanda Waugaman was also deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Winn seeks a declaratory judgment finding that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring the defendants to renew his Ranitidine 150mg prescription until he is released from BOP custody.
A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy which should be granted only if the movant carries his or her burden of proving that the circumstances clearly demand it. Overstreet v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Gov't., 305 FJd 566, 573 (6th Cir. 2002) To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must show (1) "that he is likely to succeed on the merits, " (2) "that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, " (3) "that the balance of equities tips in his favor, " and (4) "that an injunction is in the public interest." Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008); Six Clinics Holding Cmp., II v. Cafcomp Sys., Inc., 119 F.3d 393, 399 (6th Cir. 1997) "These factors are not prerequisites, but are factors that are to be balanced against each other." Overstreet, 305 F.3d at 573. However, the failure to show a likelihood of success on the merits is usually fatal. Gonzales v. National Bd. of Med. Examiners, 225 F.3d 620, 625 (6th Cir. 2000) The plaintiff bears the burden of proving that an injunction is proper, Overstreet, 305 F.3d at 573, and the proof required for a plaintiff to obtain a preliminary injunction is much more stringent than the proof required to survive a summary judgment motion. Lemy v. Daeschner, 228 F.3d 729, 739 (6th Cir. 2000)
As for the first criteria analyzed when considering whether a preliminary injunction is warranted, Winn has not shown that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his Eighth Amendment claims. Winn alleges that the defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his medical needs, but such a claim requires him to show both that the "alleged mistreatment was objectively serious, " and that the officials "subjectively ignored the risk to the inmate's safety." Bishop v. Hackel, 636 F.3d 757, 766 (6th Cir. 2011) This standard is particularly challenging to meet in cases such as Winn's, where a prisoner has received care, and the dispute is over whether the prison committed enough resources to the prisoner's treatment. It may be the case that treatment which is "so cursory as to amount to no treatment at all may amount to deliberate indifference, " Terrance v. Northville Reg'l Psychiatric Hasp., 286 F.3d 834, 843 (6th Cir. 2002) (quoting Mandel v. Doe, 888 F.2d 783, 789 (lith Cir.1989)), but "[w]here a prisoner has received some medical attention and the dispute is over the adequacy of the treatment, federal courts are generally reluctant to ...